Practical Considerations for Counselor Educators and Supervisors

Practical Considerations for Counselor Educators and Supervisors

Suggested APA style reference: Henderson, K. L., & Dufrene, R. L. (2011). Student remediation: Practicalconsiderations for counselor educators and supervisors. Retrieved from 45Student Remediation: Practical Considerations for CounselorEducators and SupervisorsKathryn L. Henderson and Roxane L. DufreneHenderson, Kathryn L., is an Assistant Professor in the Department ofCounseling at the University of Texas at San Antonio.Dufrene, Roxane L., is an Associate Professor in the Department of EducationalLeadership, Counseling, and Foundations at the University of New Orleans.Both Dr. Henderson and Dr. Dufrene have published and presented on studentremediation and evaluation.When implementing student remediation in counseling graduate programs,resources available to counselor educators and supervisors include scholarly work in theprofessional literature, the American Counseling Association‟s Code of Ethics (ACA,2005), and the Accreditation Standards from the Council for Accreditation of Counselingand Related Educational Programs (CACREP, 2009). The Code and Standards haveestablished the current known parameters surrounding remediation, providing a broad,overarching umbrella for implementation. This inherent broadness is part of thechallenge; a general dilemma that arises is the specific mechanics of how to go aboutremediating students. The necessity and charge to remediate is clear, but that charge maybe the only aspect of remediation that is clear. This conundrum represents the mainethical and legal problem when undertaking student remediation: what exactly to do?In the past two decades, several gatekeeping models emerged that address thedismissal of graduate students (Baldo, Softas-Nall, & Shaw, 1997; Bemak, Epp, & Keys,1999; Frame & Stevens-Smith, 1995; Kerl, Garcia, McCullough, & Maxwell, 2002;Lamb, Cochran, & Jackson, 1991; Lamb et al., 1987; Lumadue & Duffey, 1999;McAdams, Foster, & Ward, 2007; Wilkerson, 2006). Within these models, remediationfrequently is mentioned as a possible step; however, the emphasis is on dismissalprocedures and remediation as a process is not detailed. More recently, scholarly work inthe professional literature has explored the challenges of remediating students and hasoffered suggestions for remedial interventions and remediation plans (Dufrene &Henderson, 2009; Elman & Forrest, 2004; Gilfoyle, 2008; Henderson, 2010; Kaslow etal., 2007; Kress & Protivnak, 2009; McAdams & Foster, 2007).

Ideas and Research You Can Use: VISTAS 2011Standards and Ethical CodeThe CACREP Standards require that programs have a student retention policythat addresses remediation procedures (2009, Section I.L). The Standards glossaryfurther defines student retention policy as “the policy by which program faculty membersevaluate each student for academic, professional, and personal fitness to continue in acounseling program... [and] outlines procedures to be followed if a student does not meetprogram criteria” (p. 62). Details or guidelines regarding what constitutes suchprocedures are not included. However, the Standards do address the requirement that anyinstitutional due process policies be followed as well as any applicable ethical codeswhen considering gatekeeping actions, such as student dismissals; these directivesunderscore the broad legal canopy that is inclusive of remediation and also endorses thecurrent professional ethical codes.Similar to CACREP‟s reliance on the pertinent ethical codes, the literature alsofrequently consults the ethical codes when discussing remediation and student dismissals(Baldo et al., 1997; Bemak et al., 1999; Bhat, 2005; Forrest, Elman, Gizara, & Vacha-Haase, 1999; Frame & Stevens-Smith, 1995; Kerl et al., 2002; Lumadue & Duffey, 1999;McAdams & Foster, 2007; McAdams et al., 2007; Olkin & Gaughen, 1991; Wilkerson,2006). A frequent theme in the literature is the lack of direction in the ethical codes onthe specifics of how to remediate counseling students (Bemak et al., 1999; Bhat, 2005;Lumadue & Duffey, 1999; McAdams & Foster, 2007; Wilkerson, 2006); this observationincorporates a common reflection regarding ethical codes in general, which are devised tohave a broad applicability and not to provide “absolute guidance” (Cottone & Tarvydas,2003, p. 33). Another recurrent sentiment in the literature is the overarching ethicalimperative that compels gatekeeping and student remediation: protecting client welfareand the public from harm (Baldo et al., 1997; Bemak et al., 1999; Bhat, 2005; Frame &Stevens-Smith, 1995; Kerl et al., 2002; Lumadue & Duffey, 1999; McAdams et al., 2007;Olkin & Gaughen, 1991). This ethical imperative requires faculty and supervisors‟ actionwhen confronting challenges with students‟ performance.In the ACA Code of Ethics (2005), remediation is specifically addressed twice,first as a directive for supervisors (F.5.b) and second as a directive for counseloreducators (F.9.b), to “assist students in securing remedial assistance when needed” (p.16). The phrase „when needed‟ implies a subjective decision and possibly sits at the cruxof the murkiness regarding remediation. In both standards, remediation is laid in thecontext of evaluation: through ongoing evaluation students‟ „limitations‟ (F.5.b) or„inabilities‟ (F.9.b) would be identified. In addition, the ACA Code includes the provisoto consult and to document referrals for remedial assistance (F.9.b). For counseloreducators, the legal doctrine of due process also is mentioned explicitly, “to... providestudents with due process according to institutional policies and procedures” (p. 16).Wilkerson (2006) posited that these standards were included to underscore theimportance of the responsibility to remediate but that execution of the mandate was leftfor individual programs to devise; this sentiment is in keeping with the view that ethicalcodes do not always contain clear directives and that ethical decision making must be thenext step for professionals facing an ethical dilemma (Cottone & Tarvydas, 2003; Herlihy& Corey, 2006).2

Ideas and Research You Can Use: VISTAS 2011programs referred students to personal therapy, which is similar to Bradey and Post(1991), who reported that 23% of counselor education programs used therapy referralswith challenging students. Olkin and Gaughen (1991) reported that personal therapy wasused by 77% of programs surveyed, the most frequently used method of remediation intheir study. Additionally, one half or more of Council on Accreditation of Marriage andFamily Therapy Education (COAMFTE) accredited programs surveyed by Russell andPeterson (2003) indicated using personal therapy as a remedial method. Personal therapyalso was cited as a suggested remedial intervention (Kress & Protivnak, 2009) and as aresponse to unsatisfactory evaluations of students (Biaggio et al., 1983).Recognizing the common use of personal therapy in remediation and the lack ofresearch on the topic, Elman and Forrest (2004) conducted exploratory interviews with14 APA-accredited training directors regarding the use of personal therapy inremediation. The majority of training directors utilized what Elman and Forrest labeled asa hands-off approach to the use of personal therapy as a remedial intervention, whichplaced the main priority on students‟ confidentiality while in therapy. Othercharacteristics of the hands-off approach included the following: (a) the programrecommending, rather than requiring, personal therapy, (b) the program not participatingin selecting the therapist or ascertaining if students actually attended therapy, (c) theprogram not communicating with the students‟ therapists regarding remedial goals, and(d) the program possessing no knowledge of therapists‟ opinions regarding students‟suitability to practice. In contrast, Elman and Forrest recommended that programs adoptmore of a hands-on approach when using therapy as a remedial intervention, whichwould entail the following: (a) developing detailed policies regarding the use of therapyduring remediation, (b) developing specific remediation plans for therapy that stipulatedthe necessary outcomes of therapy, and (c) establishing the proficiency of the therapistswho provide counseling to remedial students.Additional support is offered in recent literature regarding the use of personaltherapy as a remedial intervention. Recommendations are similar to Elman and Forrest‟s(2004) suggestions, such as developing plans which detail how the outcome of therapywill be communicated to the program (Gilfoyle, 2008; Kaslow et al., 2007). Gilfoyle(2008) also noted that the use of personal therapy as a remedial intervention has yet to betested in the courts. Considering such, the author recommended that programs takeprecautions to communicate in writing the potential use of personal therapy as aremediation technique to all students through the student handbook and website. Inaddition, the author stated that ethical considerations should be reviewed with treatingtherapists before the onset of therapy with students.Increased SupervisionLamb et al. (1987) posed several other possible remedial interventions that couldbe considered when addressing challenges with students, deeming increased supervisionas “an expected first alternative when problems are first noted” (p. 601); increasedsupervision also is suggested as a remedial intervention in more recent literature (Kress &Protivnak, 2009; McAdams & Foster, 2007). The practice of using increased supervisionas a remedial intervention is evidenced in empirical studies documenting its use bytraining programs; for instance, Olkin and Gaughen (1991) reported that 40% ofprograms used increased supervision, similar to the results of Russell and Peterson4

Ideas and Research You Can Use: VISTAS 2011(2003), who reported that one-half or more of the surveyed COAMFTE programdirectors used increased supervision as well. On the lower end, Procidano et al. (1995)found that 12% of programs used increased supervision.Repeating CourseworkAdditional suggestions by Lamb et al. (1987) for remedial interventions includedthe reduction of students‟ clinical caseload. This suggestion is found in slightly differingversions in other sources in the literature, for example, Biaggio et al. (1983) reported notpermitting students to enroll in practicum as a programmatic response to unsatisfactoryevaluations. Similar programmatic actions included removing students from clinicalcourse work (Fly et al., 1997; McAdams & Foster, 2007) and requiring the repetition ofpracticum or internship (Olkin & Gaughen, 1991).Another suggestion for remedial intervention was completion of certain academiccourse work (Lamb et al., 1987). Within the realm of academic course work as a remedialtool, Olkin and Gaughen (1991) reported that 70% of programs used the repetition ofcourse work in student remediation, as well as requiring extra course work (38%) andtutoring (32%). A survey of COAMFTE program directors also indicated similarfindings, with one-half or more using increased contact with a faculty advisor duringremediation and mandating that students repeat academic course work (Russell &Peterson, 2003). McAdams and Foster (2007) also suggested the repetition of otherpertinent course work as a remedial intervention, similar to Kress and Protivnak (2009),who offered remedial interventions related to academic course work, such as theassignment of additional writing activities, for instance a reflective journal or researchpaper, and requiring the completion of continuing education workshops related to theremedial issue.Other Remedial InterventionsOther sources in the literature indicated the occurrence of what seems to be someform of remediation but did not provide details on what that entailed. For instance,Biaggio et al. (1983) reported in their survey of clinical psychology programs that 73% ofmaster‟s programs and 88% of doctoral programs would warn students afterunsatisfactory evaluations and provide students with a “prescription for change” (p. 14); adescription of that prescription was not provided. Similarly, in an exploratory study ofpsychology programs, Fly et al. (1997) found that the most frequent program response(44%) was “confrontation with a stipulation for some kind of remedial action, such asrestitution, probation, reimbursement, and so forth” (p. 494), but no further details weresupplied. Bradey and Post (1991) also found that 43% of counselor education programsused faculty review when deciding if students could continue in a program, butparticulars were not provided.Student RestrictionsWithin the context of gatekeeping, the use of some form of restriction of students‟participation in the program was reported as an intervention. A common example of thisrestriction was the requirement or suggestion of a leave of absence from enrollment in theprogram (Biaggio et al., 1983; Russell & Peterson, 2003). Olkin and Gaughen (1991)reported that 62% of programs surveyed used a leave of absence, and Procidano et al.5

Ideas and Research You Can Use: VISTAS 2011(1995) reported 11% of programs surveyed used a leave of absence. Other methods torestrict students‟ participation in the program included placing students on formalprobation and issuing a warning or counseling students to withdraw from the program(Biaggio et al., 1983). Fly et al. (1997) found that 3% of programs surveyed counseledstudents to withdraw and Procidano et al. (1995) reported 18%. Several studies indicatedthat final dismissal from the program was the response to challenging students (Biaggioet al., 1983): Fly et al. (1997) found 22% of surveyed programs dismissed students andProcidano et al. (1995) reported 39%.New Avenues for RemediationRecently, the conceptual literature on remediation has undergone somewhat of arenaissance, beginning to discuss and illustrate the remediation process rather than onlyisolated remedial interventions, providing nuance that is lacking from the empiricalliterature. McAdams and Foster (2007) presented a framework for the remediationprocess informed by a review of pertinent case law, detailing how to infuse substantiveand procedural due process within remediation. For instance, the authors recommendedthe types of interventions applied match the nature and extent of the observed studentchallenges and that the spirit of the interventions be remedial in nature and not punitive.Kaslow et al. (2007) suggested similar guidelines, including the following: (a)remediation plans adopt a positive tone, (b) outline the observed performance concerns,and (c) demonstrate how those concerns are related to established evaluative criteria.Gilfoyle (2008) offered recommendations that remediation plans: (a) link the observedbehaviors to the established evaluative criteria, (b) identify the remedial goals, and (c)specify the methods to achieve those goals. Gilfoyle further recommended that programsfocus remediation plans on observed behaviors rather than an interpretation of thosebehaviors, such as a diagnosis.In addition to recommendations on how to incorporate substantive due processduring remediation, McAdams and Foster (2007) outlined how procedural due processcan be accounted for, such as defining remedial expectations before implementing themand establishing routine student evaluations. This mirrors the proposals from Kaslow etal. (2007) that remediation be adopted with a spirit of full disclosure and that students beinformed of routine evaluations and potential outcomes of the evaluations, such asremediation or dismissal. The authors also suggested detailing the necessary steps inremediation plans for students to achieve competence and establishing the expectedtimeline for the duration of plans. Additionally, McAdams and Foster stressed theimportance of documentation during the remediation process, which was also emphasizedby Jackson-Cherry (2006). Further guidelines from McAdams and Foster includedcustomizing remediation to individual students in order to fulfill the legal doctrine offundamental fairness.New contributions to the conceptual literature on remediation were found in tworecent scholarly works devoted to remediation plans (Dufrene & Henderson, 2009; Kress& Protivnak, 2009). Dufrene and Henderson (2009) offered a framework to developIndividual Remediation Plans (IRP) that incorporates regular evaluations and systematicdocumentation. Kress and Protivnak, referring to their framework as a ProfessionalDevelopment Plan (PDP), outlined a procedure to develop a PDP as “a behaviorally6

Ideas and Research You Can Use: VISTAS 2011focused remediation plan and contract created by counselor education program faculty”(2009, p. 157). Both frameworks incorporated several similar elements found in theexisting literature, such as stating expectations and goals in the positive as an expectedcompetency, itemizing remedial interventions developed specifically for the individualstudent, establishing the time frame for the plan, and signing the document.Figure 1. Codes, Standards, Remedial Interventions, and Suggestions for DevelopingRemediation PlansWithin the psychology literature, recent scholarly work has adopted a proactivetone as well. The aforementioned work of Kaslow et al. (2007) articulated proposals forthe profession for identifying and intervening with student challenges, such as “Whenassessing competence problems, define key terms, establish benchmarks for performance,and develop a categorization schema” (p. 480). The work of Kaslow et al. complementedLichtenberg et al.‟s (2007; both are members of the APA Task Force on the Assessment7

Ideas and Research You Can Use: VISTAS 2011of Competence in Professional Psychology) analysis of challenges to evaluatingcompetence; challenges identified included defining competencies, limitations inassessing competence, and dual roles for educators and trainers. Additional recentscholarly work has examined the programmatic response to challenging students. Forexample, alternate stances for graduate programs to consider when conceptualizing andaddressing concerns with students have been offered, such as an ecological or systemsperspective by Forrest, Shen Miller, and Elman (2008), who recommended that programsshould remember the effects of the system, which can be flawed and imperfect, onindividual students. Similarly, Wester, Christianson, Fouad, and Santiago-Rivera (2008)suggested that faculty adopt an information processing approach to problem solvingwhen addressing student competence issues. Refer to Figure 1 for a summary of theremedial interventions and suggestions for the development of remediation plansdiscussed in the literature.Suggestions for Future ResearchOther than Elman and Forrest‟s qualitative study (2004), empirical data regardingremedial interventions is not abundant and consists mainly of descriptive survey data. Anarea for growth is scholarly research on remediation; as Forrest et al. (1999) stated, “weappear to be relying on intuitive and rational processes without the benefit of empiricalknowledge to inform our critical decisions about the identification, remediation, anddismissal of impaired trainees” (p. 675). Future research examining the remediationprocess would aid in the development of additional remedial interventions (Forrest et al.,1999). Additionally, Vacha-Haase, Davenport, and Kerewsky (2004) critiqued theexisting remedial interventions and noted lack of consensus regarding the use of personaltherapy and increased supervision as remedial interventions. Of like mind, Vasquez(1999) also criticized the lack of knowledge regarding remedial interventions, especiallythe link between remedial intervention and remedial concern, which was echoed by Kressand Protivnak (2009). Other areas identified for future research included examining theoutcomes of remediation plans, the experiences of faculty and students participating inthe plans (Kress & Protivnak, 2009), the duration of remediation, the accompanyingnature of remedial supervision, and the extent of documentation necessary withremediation (McAdams & Foster, 2007). Vacha-Haase et al. also noted the need forempirical data regarding the entire remedial process. Continued research and dialogue isnecessary to further define the components of remediation.ConclusionThe concept of remediation in counselor education programs and related mentalhealth fields appears to be entering a phase of growth indicated by the emergent scholarlywork in the literature. While the gatekeeping models laid the foundation for studentdismissals, recent contributions have focused more on remedial interventions andremediation plans, expanding the resources available to counselor educators andsupervisors undertaking student remediation. The interventions presented in this articlewere reviewed to provide resources for counselor educators and supervisors for practice.Personal therapy, additional course requirements, and increased supervision, among other8

Ideas and Research You Can Use: VISTAS 2011techniques, are remedial interventions available to address student challenges. With thepractical considerations found in the literature, counselor educators and supervisors areafforded guidelines when implementing remediation and fulfilling the ethical obligationto assist students when necessary in obtaining remedial assistance.ReferencesAmerican Counseling Association. (2005). ACA code of ethics. Alexandria, VA: Author.Retrieved from, T. D., Softas-Nall, B. C., & Shaw, S. F. (1997). Student review and retention incounselor education: An alternative to Frame and Stevens-Smith. CounselorEducation & Supervision, 36, 245-253.Bemak, F., Epp, L., R., & Keys, S. G. (1999). Impaired graduate students: A processmodel of graduate program monitoring and intervention. International Journal forthe Advancement of Counselling, 21(1), 19-30. doi:10/1023/A:1005387309472Bhat, C. S. (2005). Enhancing counseling gatekeeping with performance appraisalprotocols. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, 27, 399-411. doi:10.1007/s10447-005-8202-zBiaggio, M. K., Gasparikova-Krasnec, M., & Bauer, L. (1983). Evaluation of clinicalpsychology graduate students: The problem of the unsuitable student.Professional Practice of Psychology, 4(1), 9-20.Bradey, J., & Post, P. (1991). Impaired students: Do we eliminate them from counseloreducation programs? Counselor Education & Supervision, 31, 100-108.Cottone, R. R., & Tarvydas, V. M. (2003). Ethical and professional issues in counseling(2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. (2009). The2009 standards. Retrieved from, R. L., & Henderson, K. L. (2009). A framework for remediation plans forcounseling trainees. In G. Walz, J. Bleuer, & R. Yep (Eds.), Compellingcounseling images: The best of VISTAS 2009 (pp. 149-159). Alexandria, VA:American Counseling Association.Elman, N. S., & Forrest, L. (2004). Psychotherapy in the remediation of psychologytrainees: Exploratory interviews with training directors. Professional Psychology:Research and Practice, 35(2), 123-130. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.35.2.123Fly, B. J., van Bark, W. P., Weinman, L., Kitchener, K. S., & Lang, P. R. (1997). Ethicaltransgressions of psychology graduate students: Critical incidents withimplications for training. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 28(5),492-495. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.28.5.492Forrest, L., Elman, N., Gizara, S., & Vacha-Haase, T. (1999). Trainee impairment: Areview of identification, remediation, dismissal, and legal issues. CounselingPsychologist, 27, 627-686. Retrieved from, L., Shen Miller, D. S., & Elman, N. S. (2008). Psychology trainees withcompetence problems: From individual to ecological conceptualizations. Training9

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Ideas and Research You Can Use: VISTAS 2011McAdams, C. R., III, & Foster, V. A. (2007). A guide to just and fair remediation ofcounseling students with professional performance deficiencies. CounselorEducation & Supervision, 47, 2-13.McAdams, C. R., III, Foster, V. A., & Ward, T. J. (2007). Remediation and dismissalpolicies in counselor education: Lessons learned from a challenge in federal court.Counselor Education & Supervision, 46, 212-229.Olkin, R., & Gaughen, S. (1991). Evaluation and dismissal of students in master‟s levelclinical programs: Legal parameters and survey results. Counselor Education &Supervision, 30, 276-288.Procidano, M. E., Busch-Rossnagel, N. A., Reznikoff, M., & Geisinger, K. F. (1995).Responding to graduate students‟ professional deficiencies: A national survey.Journal of Clinical Psychology, 51, 426-433.Russell, C. S., & Peterson, C. M. (2003). Student impairment and remediation inaccredited marriage and family therapy programs. Journal of Marital & FamilyTherapy, 29(3), 329-337. doi:10.1111/j.1752-0606.2003.tb01210.xSchoener, G. R. (1999). Practicing what we preach. Counseling Psychologist, 27(5), 693-701. doi:10.1177/0011000099275003Vacha-Haase, T., Davenport, D. S., & Kerewsky, S. D. (2004). Problematic students:Gatekeeping practices of academic professional psychology programs.Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 35, 115-122. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.35.2.115Vasquez, M. J. T. (1999). Trainee impairment: A response from a feminist/multiculturalretired trainer. Counseling Psychologist 27(5), 687-692. doi:10.1177/0011000099275002Wester, S. R., Christianson, H. F., Fouad, N. A., & Santiago-Rivera, A. L. (2008).Information processing as problem solving: A collaborative approach to dealingwith students exhibiting insufficient competence. Training and Education inProfessional Psychology 2, 193-201. doi:10.1037/1931-3918.2.4.193Wilkerson, K. (2006). Impaired students: Applying the therapeutic process model tograduate training programs. Counselor Education & Supervision, 45, 207-217.Note: This paper is part of the annual VISTAS project sponsored by the American Counseling Association.Find more information on the project at:

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